The Case Against the Grand Egyptian Museum
July 20, 2011 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Mohamed Elshahed writes in Jadaliyya about the many problems with the museums of Egypt, including their conflation of "Egyptian history" with "ancient Egypt", their tendency to address themselves to tourists rather than Egyptians, their recent domination by the influence Zahi Hawass (who has resigned as Minister of Antiquities for the second time in five months, after having first left his post in March over the looting of archaeological sites during the recent uprising), their poor organisation and shadowy finances and, not least, the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities' use as a torture site during the protests in Tahrir Square.
posted by Dim Siawns (10 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I really wish the Zahi Hawass profile from the New Yorker wasn't behind their paywall because he is an incredibly interesting, if not infuriating, individual who simultaneously controls Egyptology (anyone wanting to study anything has [or, well, had] to go through him) and is an utter media whore.
posted by griphus at 10:52 AM on July 20, 2011 [5 favorites]

ankenaten's sarcophagus is in the PARKING LOT...which is an, um, interesting place for it...FWIW.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:06 AM on July 20, 2011

With the French Revolution came the first truly public museum in the world, the Louvre, which opened its doors in 1793. from Elshahed article.

This is not correct. Political cicumstances led to the Lbeing opened to the public as it was from 93' to 96', A political showpiece as much as museum. Between 1750-1780 parts were open that displayed works on wedsdays and saturadays. The word "public" is key. Were the nobles allowed to view the Louvre 1793-1796?

"The first truly public museum was the Louvre Museum in Paris,[citation needed] opened in 1793 during the French Revolution"

hmm, me sees a pattern.
posted by clavdivs at 11:12 AM on July 20, 2011

-Louvre being-
posted by clavdivs at 11:13 AM on July 20, 2011

My fiance is always grumbling Zahi Hawass when he appears on TV. I think the only good thing she ever said about him was after she saw a segment on his "Chasing Mummies" show where he chewed out a student for suggesting that the pyramids were built by aliens. (Personally, I've always wanted to see Zahi Hawass and Erich Von Daniken in a pit fight.)

Apparently the state of the Egyptian museum was something of a joke from the stories she tells. Priceless artifacts laying out in the open, no organization, etc. While she enjoyed the access that the lax security afforded her, she also worried about the safety of the items there.
posted by charred husk at 11:22 AM on July 20, 2011

Here's a recent article about Hawass in the New York Times. Something tells me we haven't seen the last of him.
posted by orrnyereg at 11:45 AM on July 20, 2011

The guy who's replaced Hawass is a lunatic. This is a precarious time for the archaeology community in Egypt.
posted by grounded at 12:07 PM on July 20, 2011

If you're talking about El-Banna, the nomination was cancelled (thankfully, apparently.)
posted by griphus at 12:18 PM on July 20, 2011

A year ago last spring we visited the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo.
We visited the Tutankhamun display, which was in a very carefully secured room behind an airlock with tightly controlled access. I was impressed with the care taken with the Tut objects compared to the objects in the rest of the museum, most of which were left exposed to Cairo's dense and gritty atmosphere. As we wandered cheek by jowl with a German tour group in the carefully climate controlled chamber viewing the cultural heritage of an ancient civilization, one of the guards climbed up on a folding chair and opened a window.
I can't even begin to talk about the bathrooms.
posted by Floydd at 12:26 PM on July 20, 2011

Every time I pass by Cleopatra's Needle in Central Park (which is quite frequently) I think that if it were in Egypt, it would be either at risk or generally inaccessible to people. So I am thankful it's in New York.
posted by falameufilho at 9:32 PM on July 20, 2011

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